Depending on their species, personality, and upbringing, parrots can be really cuddly pets. Wild parrots are very affectionate toward each other and show their love in various ways.
Parrots cuddle by rubbing their beaks gently against you and preening your hair. Most parrots don’t snuggle up in your lap, but they do enjoy nestling against your neck or standing on your shoulder.
Parrots that like to cuddle the most include conures, African greys, budgies (parakeets), quaker parrots, cockatoos, and cockatiels.
Not every parrot is cuddly, even if its breed is affectionate. Some parrots will be aloof and refuse to cuddle just because that’s in the parrot’s character.
Others will warm up to the prospect of cuddling after several months of bonding and trust. If you want to make your parrot cuddly, spend lots of time with it.
Are Parrots Affectionate?
Parrots are social animals that form strong, life-long bonds with each other. So, it’s no surprise that these intelligent birds are also highly affectionate.
Wild parrots choose a mate for life and show affection through:
- Grooming and preening
- Playing together
- Feeding (regurgitation)
- Socializing with their mate more than other birds
Parrots are also affectionate with other members of their flock. Even if the parrot isn’t interacting with its favorite, it’ll still groom, forage, and play with other flock-mates.
Even if they bicker now and then, parrots make up with each other quickly. As long as they aren’t crowded or stressed, parrots can befriend almost anyone.
In captivity, a pet parrot will provide this love, care, and attention to you. They learn to care for and trust their owners as long as they’re well-fed, given enrichment, and receive your attention.
Do All Parrots Cuddle?
Of course, not all parrots are instant cuddle bugs. They still form strong bonds with their human companions and show affection. However, they’re less likely to cuddle with you and will show other physical gestures of love.
The individual personality of your parrot and its temperament determine whether it’ll be cuddly. Some parrots don’t like being physically affectionate.
Instead of cuddling, they’ll seek out your attention by calling, singing, and flying over to sit on your head or shoulder. Even if they don’t snuggle up and start preening, you’ll still be their favorite person.
High-energy parrots, like budgies, are more likely to cuddle. By nature, they’re more willing to snuggle, rub their beaks on you, and need more attention. It’s a part of their character, and it won’t take much to make them cuddly.
How Do Parrots Show Affection To Humans?
According to the International Society for Anthrozoology, birds are one of the most common animal companions in the United States. This is because of their affectionate nature and long lifespans.
After all, you can get a friend that will stick with you for decades. You can also form stronger emotional bonds with a creature that can mimic speech and pick up more complex tricks. According to Anthrozoös, pet birds can often fulfill the social needs of their human owners through affection, vocalization, and interaction.
Of course, parrots also show affection in their own unique ways. These gestures don’t always mirror the tactics that humans use to show fondness. Because of that, owners may overlook subtle (or even gross) gestures of love from a parrot. These include a parrot:
- Rubbing its beak on you
- Nipping gently at your skin
- Singing or making noises at you
- Seeking out your company
- Regurgitating food onto you
The parrot may cozy up to your neck and rub its beak against you. It will even ‘kiss’ by pecking lightly at your skin without pressure. This is a grooming habit that parrots reserve for people (and birds) that they have a great fondness.
Parrots will usually cuddle or kiss your face. They know that, because of the placement of your eyes and mouth, this is where you’ll perceive them. It will be the same as when parrots nuzzle or groom each other’s faces.
Given that the face is such a delicate area, especially for birds, this is a huge sign of trust and affection. The parrot knows it won’t be harmed or harm you by entering this space.
Calling And Noises
Parrots develop special calls for their loved ones. These contact calls range from a squawk to a scream and are intended to check that their companion is close and safe. The longer you ignore the parrot, the louder it will call.
Cooing, singing, or purring to you indicates how much your parrot cares about you. Purring is the most surprising aspect of noise-making since parrots can sound like a cat.
Parrots are naturally vocal pets. The more noise they make that’s directed toward you, the more they care.
Nips And Movements
Parrots that want to show affection will move their mouths often. This may look like this:
- Beak fluttering
- Sticking out the tongue
- Clicking the mouth
- Moving its tongue around
- Beak grinding
Gentle nips (not bites) are given to people that parrots like. If the parrot considers you a trusted friend, it will seek your attention with a small peck. It won’t hurt as it will only have a small amount of pressure.
Regurgitation is a sign of fondness. In the wild, parrots feed their young, their mates, and their closest friends this way. As a human, having food regurgitated on you is less desirable.
A parrot will start to regurgitate once it has been given a specific cue. This will include a head bob, extending its neck, and a small gag sound. Parrots only feed each other when they feel closely bonded.
Trusting actions, such as preening, are reserved for a parrot’s favorite companion in the wild. Mates that trust each other will exchange grooming rituals and take turns in napping.
Most Cuddly Parrots
Parrots are affectionate to humans as long as they’re closely bonded with them. However, some parrots are more likely to show their feelings than others. Cuddling takes a unique form, usually involving:
- Nuzzling against the neck
- Hiding in your shirt
- Playing with your hair
- Bumping you with its beak
If you want a parrot that can show its affection in these ways, these huggable parrots are the most likely to hop onto your shoulder, rest against your neck, and keep you company:
Friendly and cuddly, conures have big personalities that can make them rather loud. Considered smart parrots, conures are better suited to an experienced owner that can give them time and attention.
They have many favorite ways to show affection toward one another and their owners. Conures love to preen your hair or beard. They’re not shy about giving a friendly nip.
Making noise is another favorite of the conure. Over their 20-30 year lifespan, conures will make various sounds to express their emotions. They will show love by:
- Contact calling
- Cooing to their owner
If they feel close enough to their owner, they might even regurgitate food as a way of sharing. You can train this habit out of your conure, but it will find other ways to show that it cares.
Native to Peru and Ecuador, parrotlets are one of the smallest parrot species. They are the perfect companion for those who live in apartments or with close neighbors, as they’re quiet by nature.
These little parrots come in a variety of different colors and can even learn to speak. With a lifespan of 15-20 years, this pocket parrot has ample time to form a strong bond with you. This species likes to show affection by:
- Making noises
Anyone who wants to get a parrotlet needs to be prepared for the time investment. The parrot will need around 2 hours a day of play and love.
A cockatiel is a medium-sized parrot that’s native to Australia. They have outgoing personalities and distinct coloring. Cockatiels love to socialize and show off their personality through:
- Head bobbing
- Hanging upside down
- Wagging their tails
Cockatiels are considered to be very expressive. They love to show their affection through various movements and songs. Once they develop a strong bond with their owner, they’ll constantly seek your attention.
A unique aspect of the cockatiel is the crest atop its head. This is a good indicator of the parrot’s current mood. A pressed-down crest means that it’s on guard or feeling hostile. When it’s standing upright, it feels suspicious.
Cockatiels get nervous in unfamiliar environments, but they come out of their shells once they’ve had time to adapt. Their favorite habit is to mimic sounds from their environment. If your cockatiel begins whistling your favorite song, especially to you, then it’s showing love.
Also known as monk parrots, the quaker originates from South America. Intelligent and social quakers are active birds that bond closely with their owners. They adore cuddles and scratches but hate being left alone for too long.
Quaker parrots live in large flocks, with one large nest divided up into smaller sections. This creates an apartment-like habitat for everyone. When they’re domesticated, quaker parrots share this bond with their human family.
When upset, they become noisy and disruptive, going so far as to pluck out their own feathers. Territorial and fearless, quaker parrots adapt well to family life but enjoy being the only pet, getting all the attention they need.
African Grey Parrot
African grey parrots are highly social. As the most intelligent of all domesticated parrots, they readily mimic sounds and talk. They also develop deep bonds with their owners. However, they need puzzles, play sessions, and your undivided attention to stay happy.
African greys have been known to reach 60-80 years of age, making them a life-long commitment. They’ll show their love and affection by spending time with their owners.
They will preen, coo, and mimic their owners as a sign of trust. Since they love spending time with one person, African greys enjoy remaining perched on your shoulder.
Budgies (parakeets) are popular worldwide. With proper care, they’ll be well tamed and affectionate. Once they’ve formed a strong enough bond with you, they’ll:
They’re outgoing by nature, but this energy will be intensified around their favorite person. This is shown in their willingness to cuddle. They may scale your arm and tuck themselves against your neck.
Once there, budgies like to pick at earrings and tug at hair. This preening behavior allows them to groom, which is a sign of trust and love. Budgies are social and live in flocks of up to 100 birds.
Budgies are known as playful and a little stubborn. A natural way of teasing each other in a flock is to steal food, toys and irritate one another. They can learn to play fetch and toil away at puzzles for hours.
Cockatoos fall into the most affectionate parrot category. Funny, impish, and sociable, cockatoos are a great addition to any home environment. These outgoing birds need daily attention.
Prepare for having a smart, high-maintenance addition to your home. For the parrot to thrive and receive all the attention it needs, you must spend upwards of 2 hours a day with it. Cockatoos need to explore outside of their cage, play with toys, and interact with you.
A cockatoo’s need for attention makes it very loving. Once properly bonded, cockatoos are loyal birds. Keeping them at home involves providing a large cage, along with toys and other forms of enrichment.
Even a cockatoo’s food has to be reflective of its outgoing nature. Seeds, nuts, and coconuts are good sources of nutrition, but they also keep the parrot occupied. When not eating or sleeping, expect the parrot to sit with you throughout most of the day. It will want to stay close to its favorite person.
These gorgeous parrots are the largest of their kind, reaching over 40 inches in length. Considered very sociable, they love spending time with their owners. During this time, they prefer to:
- Sit on your shoulder
- Follow you around the house, gliding from place to place
- Talk and sing to you
- Make contact calls whenever you’re out of sight
- Dance and bob with you
They’re often considered the Great Dane of the parrot world. While they’re outgoing and social, they can become destructive if left alone for too long. To assist with training and enrichment, hyacinths need wooden toys and branches.
Even with plenty of enrichment toys, hyacinths need to spend ample time outside of their cage. This should be matched with strict training routines. Because they’re so intelligent, hyacinths can become good friends with you.
Hyacinths are very loyal. They will prefer their owner above everyone else and get excited when they see you. You may find your parrot dancing, singing, or flapping its wings each time you enter the room.
Lovebirds don’t need a companion in their cage to remain happy. Instead, they’re capable of bonding with their owners as long as they’re given the right amount of time and affection. Lovebirds are usually no more than 8 inches in length, making it easy to place a lovebird on your shoulder and go about your day.
During this time, the lovebird will snuggle up to your neck or tuck itself into your hair. These parrots can become feisty if they’re not well-trained. They may remove your jewelry, tug at your hair, or even peck at your face.
However, this is usually a cry for attention or a playful way to gain your undivided focus. Lovebirds become well-behaved when rewarded with more of your time.
Lovebirds show affection by chattering and whistling. Yours will squeak and sing as it explores the home with you, perched happily on your shoulder. Even if you place it somewhere else, the lovebird will eagerly fly back to you. With a lifespan of 10-15 years, they provide companionship for a long time.
Lovebirds are territorial. They attach themselves to either their owner or another bird. With this comes a tendency to show jealousy toward any other pet in the household. When you get a lovebird, keep up the training, daily socializing, and positive reinforcement.
Why Isn’t My Parrot Affectionate?
Even if you get a cuddly parrot breed, you may find that it’s disinterested in snuggling. This will depend on:
- The parrot’s temperament
- How socialized the parrot is
- How healthy the parrot is
- If the parrot has a large enough cage and a balanced diet
- If the parrot gets enough of your attention
- If the parrot trusts you
Don’t Spend Enough Time With It
A parrot’s intelligence means that it’s able to form loving, complex bonds. However, this also means that you can’t fool a parrot into liking you. Your pet parrot may not be affectionate if it:
- Doesn’t see you often
- Doesn’t get to play with you regularly
- Hasn’t been well-trained
Parrots value their bonds and take any break of trust seriously. Your parrot may stop being affectionate if you’ve:
- Startled the parrot by accident
- Not been feeding it a balanced diet
- Given it a small cage and don’t let it out often
This will reduce how warm and affectionate a parrot will be around you.
Not Its Favorite
If you share the responsibility of caring for the parrot, it may choose a favorite person. The parrot will be more willing to cuddle with this person over anyone else. If that person isn’t you, it won’t be as affectionate.
Doesn’t Think You’re A Good Perch
You may be wearing strong perfume/aftershave that the parrot dislikes. Also, if you move too quickly while the parrot sits on your shoulder, it may be too alert to relax and cuddle.
Not In The Parrot’s Nature
Your parrot may not be the cuddly type. Regardless of its species, it may not be in your parrot’s personality to snuggle up for love. If this is the case, you should strengthen your bond with the parrot to see if it warms up to you. If not, learn how to share affection with the parrot in other ways, such as through hand feeding or playing games.